Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
Having a child who is sick in the hospital can be one of the most trying times for a family — which is why Disney’s community volunteer group (Disney VoluntEARS) recently decided to bring a little light to some brave parents and kids at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) by giving them an “incredible” day of fun on June 30.
Armed with plenty of Disney merchandise and famous Disney characters, the team planned some very special activities for the hospital’s young patients. Along with free gifts, the event included a special screening of the hit movie Incredibles 2 — and Pixar animators even provided unique sketches for the kids in attendance!
The effort was all part of the Disney Team of Heroes Initiative and Disney’s commitment to spend $100 million to transform the hospital experience for children over the next five years. CHOP is one of 445 hospitals nationwide receiving the hospital care packages through this program.
VoluntEAR Marguerite Faison tells Babble that excitement was definitely in the air that day, as anxious patients and their parents began to line up 30 minutes prior in anticipation.
The day began with the kids being able to meet Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl in real life — and they even had an opportunity to strike a pose for professional pictures and candid shots!
After meeting with the larger-than-life characters, the VoluntEARS team members then presented the children with gifts that they pulled out of Disney boxes adorned with giant red bows. Inside were things like Disney books, movies, dolls, plush toys, action figure masks, and cars.
“Everybody left with something to hold and cherish,” says Faison.
According to Faison, some of the children came to the event attached to IVs and equipment. Others were in wheelchairs, she says, while still others appeared to be perfectly healthy even though they were obviously facing challenges. This event gave all of them the opportunity to enjoy a magical reprieve from their hospital rooms.
“We saw time and time again how parents attempted to stay strong and hold back tears as they watched their children smile for the first time since arriving at CHOP,” Faison says.
After a gift was offered, Faison describes how each VoluntEAR would then tell the child, “You are incredible.”
“I believe words have power,” she notes. “Hopefully those few words, [when] spoken and remembered, prolonged someone’s life a little longer or made a treatment a little easier.”
Faison herself is also no stranger to challenges, as she tells Babble that she is parent of a child on the autism spectrum.
“During our visits to CHOP in his younger years, I would have love to have experienced a smile or word of encouragement from someone outside of the medical community,” she says. “Through this wonderful opportunity, I made every attempt to be ‘incredible’ and that ‘smile source’ for both the children and their parents.”
Sadly, children who are required to stay in a hospital often miss out on some of the events that make childhood magical, like going to a movie featuring their favorite characters.
All in all, Faison describes this event as a “totally awesome, super fantastic investment in the lives of the young, giving them their special moment to laugh, exhale and shine.”
What a perfect way to bring magic (and plenty of smiles!) to the children who need it most.